Florida bill would let police pull people over for driving and texting

Lawmakers are trying it again. Right now in Florida, a police officer cannot pull you over for texting. But a proposed bill at the state level would change that.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - A Florida bill co-sponsored by a local representative hopes to discourage people from texting while driving.

State Representative Cyndi Stevenson said she hopes it will save lives. It would enable law enforcement to pull over a driver if they are caught texting and driving.

"It's the law in 14 states," Stevenson said. "We've tried to pass it in Florida several times."

Law enforcement officers told First Coast News it's a good idea, but say it could be tough to enforce.

"We have to visually be able to view the phone in your hand and determine you are in fact texting," said Commander Chuck Mulligan with the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.

In the bill, police could not pull you over for typing in an address on Google Map, a phone number or even web surfing.

"We have to ensure what you're doing is texting and driving,which becomes problematic with tinted windows and we're not always right beside you," Mulligan said.

Standing at a busy St. Augustine intersection, First Coast News saw drivers using phones, but we could not tell if they were texting.

Law enforcement says that if anything, this bill is a turn in the right direction.

"I think any enhancement we can make in a statute that makes it safer all around is a positive for Florida," Mulligan said.

Stevenson believes people the outcome will be the same when the law required seatbelts.

"Finally, when it became the law, people just started to do it," she stated.

She says if people know there is a law in which they can be pulled over for texting and driving, drivers will eventually just stop texting behind the wheel.

"I think it will eventually help," Stevenson said. 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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